Stop Arguing with Software Developers on the Internet

1 day 11 hours ago

I won’t bother pasting the iconic XKCD that we’re all thinking about right now, given the blog post title.  Instead, I’ll just lead with the premise.  You should stop arguing with software developers on the internet.  In fact, you should probably stop arguing on the internet altogether. Now, before you go any further, notice that […]

The post Stop Arguing with Software Developers on the Internet appeared first on DaedTech.

  
Erik Dietrich

How Google autocomplete works in Search

6 days ago

Autocomplete is a feature within Google Search designed to make it faster to complete searches that you’re beginning to type. In this post—the second in a series that goes behind-the-scenes about Google Search—we’ll explore when, where and how autocomplete works.

Using autocompleteAutocomplete is available most anywhere you find a Google search box, including the Google home page, the Google app for iOS and Android, the quick search box from within Android and the “Omnibox” address bar within Chrome. Just begin typing, and you’ll see predictions appear:

In the example above, you can see that typing the letters “san f” brings up predictions such as “san francisco weather” or “san fernando mission,” making it easy to finish entering your search on these topics without typing all the letters.

Sometimes, we’ll also help you complete individual words and phrases, as you type:

Autocomplete is especially useful for those using mobile devices, making it easy to complete a search on a small screen where typing can be hard. For both mobile and desktop users, it’s a huge time saver all around. How much? Well:

  • On average, it reduces typing by about 25 percent
  • Cumulatively, we estimate it saves over 200 years of typing time per day. Yes, per day!

Predictions, not suggestionsYou’ll notice we call these autocomplete “predictions” rather than “suggestions,” and there’s a good reason for that. Autocomplete is designed to help people complete a search they were intending to do, not to suggest new types of searches to be performed. These are our best predictions of the query you were likely to continue entering.

How do we determine these predictions? We look at the real searches that happen on Google and show common and trending ones relevant to the characters that are entered and also related to your location and previous searches.

The predictions change in response to new characters being entered into the search box. For example, going from “san f” to “san fe” causes the San Francisco-related predictions shown above to disappear, with those relating to San Fernando then appearing at the top of the list:

That makes sense. It becomes clear from the additional letter that someone isn’t doing a search that would relate to San Francisco, so the predictions change to something more relevant.

Why some predictions are removedThe predictions we show are common and trending ones related to what someone begins to type. However, Google removes predictions that are against our autocomplete policies, which bar:


  • Sexually explicit predictions that are not related to medical, scientific, or sex education topics
  • Hateful predictions against groups and individuals on the basis of race, religion or several other demographics
  • Violent predictions
  • Dangerous and harmful activity in predictions

In addition to these policies, we may remove predictions that we determine to be spam, that are closely associated with piracy, or in response to valid legal requests.

A guiding principle here is that autocomplete should not shock users with unexpected or unwanted predictions.

This principle and our autocomplete policies are also why popular searches as measured in our Google Trends tool might not appear as predictions within autocomplete. Google Trends is designed as a way for anyone to deliberately research the popularity of search topics over time. Autocomplete removal policies are not used for Google Trends.

Why inappropriate predictions happenWe have systems in place designed to automatically catch inappropriate predictions and not show them. However, we process billions of searches per day, which in turn means we show many billions of predictions each day. Our systems aren’t perfect, and inappropriate predictions can get through. When we’re alerted to these, we strive to quickly remove them.

It’s worth noting that while some predictions may seem odd, shocking or cause a “Who would search for that!” reaction, looking at the actual search results they generate sometimes provides needed context. As we explained earlier this year, the search results themselves may make it clearer in some cases that predictions don’t necessarily reflect awful opinions that some may hold but instead may come from those seeking specific content that’s not problematic. It’s also important to note that predictions aren’t search results and don’t limit what you can search for.

Regardless, even if the context behind a prediction is good, even if a prediction is infrequent,  it’s still an issue if the prediction is inappropriate. It’s our job to reduce these as much as possible.

Our latest efforts against inappropriate predictionsTo better deal with inappropriate predictions, we launched a feedback tool last year and have been using the data since to make improvements to our systems. In the coming weeks, expanded criteria applying to hate and violence will be in force for policy removals.

Our existing policy protecting groups and individuals against hateful predictions only covers cases involving race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity. Our expanded policy for search will cover any case where predictions are reasonably perceived as hateful or prejudiced toward individuals and groups, without particular demographics.

With the greater protections for individuals and groups, there may be exceptions where compelling public interest allows for a prediction to be retained. With groups, predictions might also be retained if there’s clear “attribution of source” indicated. For example, predictions for song lyrics or book titles that might be sensitive may appear, but only when combined with words like “lyrics” or “book” or other cues that indicate a specific work is being sought.

As for violence, our policy will expand to cover removal of predictions which seem to advocate, glorify or trivialize violence and atrocities, or which disparage victims.

How to report inappropriate predictionsOur expanded policies will roll out in the coming weeks. We hope that the new policies, along with other efforts with our systems, will improve autocomplete overall. But with billions of predictions happening each day, we know that we won’t catch everything that’s inappropriate.

Should you spot something, you can report using the “Report inappropriate predictions” link we launched last year, which appears below the search box on desktop:

For those on mobile or using the Google app for Android, long press on a prediction to get a reporting option. Those using the Google app on iOS can swipe to the left to get the reporting option.

By the way, if we take action on a reported prediction that violates our policies, we don’t just remove that particular prediction. We expand to ensure we’re also dealing with closely related predictions. Doing this work means sometimes an inappropriate prediction might not immediately disappear, but spending a little extra time means we can provide a broader solution.

Making predictions richer and more useful
As said above, our predictions show in search boxes that range from desktop to mobile to within our Google app. The appearance, order and some of the predictions themselves can vary along with this.

When you’re using Google on desktop, you’ll typically see up to 10 predictions. On a mobile device, you’ll typically see up to five, as there’s less screen space.

On mobile or Chrome on desktop, we may show you information like dates, the local weather, sports information and more below a prediction:

In the Google app, you may also notice that some of the predictions have little logos or images next to them. That’s a sign that we have special Knowledge Graph information about that topic, structured information that’s often especially useful to mobile searchers:

Predictions also will vary because the list may include any related past searches you’ve done. We show these to help you quickly get back to a previous search you may have conducted:

You can tell if a past search is appearing because on desktop, you’ll see the word “Remove” appear next to a prediction. Click on that word if you want to delete the past search.

On mobile, you’ll see a clock icon on the left and an X button on the right. Click on the X to delete a past search. In the Google App, you’ll also see a clock icon. To remove a prediction, long press on it in Android or swipe left on iOS to reveal a delete option.

You can also delete all your past searches in bulk, or by particular dates or those matching particular terms using My Activity in your Google Account.

More about autocompleteWe hope this post has helped you understand more about autocomplete, including how we’re working to reduce inappropriate predictions and to increase the usefulness of the feature. For more, you can also see our help page about autocomplete.

You can also check out the recent Wired video interview below, where our our vice president of search Ben Gomes and the product manager of autocomplete Chris Haire answer questions about autocomplete that came from…autocomplete!

Google Search Team Answers the Web's Most Searched Questions | WIRED

DaedTech Digest: Functional Style, Isolation, and Blogging Mental Models

6 days 11 hours ago

Welcome to yet another DaedTech digest Friday.  We did a mini-move again this week, relocating from Phoenix back to San Diego. As an aside, I think I might solidify what I’ve gravitated to a little already, and make the digest column a weekly blurb about the remote work/location-independent life.  It’s not necessarily directly related to […]

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Erik Dietrich

The High Five: put your hands together for this week's search trends

6 days 17 hours ago

Every Friday, we look back at five trending topics in Search from that week, and then give ourselves a High Five for making it to the weekend. Today we’re putting our hands together for National High Five Day—so first, a few notable “high five” trends. Then on to our regularly scheduled programming.

High Fives all around
Turns out, searches for “high five” transcend all realms of culture: sports (“Why do NBA players high five after free throws?”) entertainment (“how to high five a Sim”), and pets (“How to teach a dog to high five”). As for virtual high fives, “Scrubs,” “Seinfeld” and Liz Lemon are high five famous—they’re the top trending “high five gifs.”

A First Lady, first a mother
When former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92, people remembered her role as matriarch, searching for “Barbara Bush children,” “Barbara Bush family,” and “Barbara Bush grandchildren.” She was the second woman to be the mother and wife of a president; and searches for the first woman to hold that title, Abigail Adams (wife of John and mother of John Quincy) went up by 1,150 percent this week.

What’s Swedish for robot?
Need an extra set of hands? A team of researchers built a robot to help with one of the most challenging tasks of the modern era—assembling Ikea furniture. In an ordinary week, people might search for Ikea lamp, but for now they’re more interested in “Ikea robot.” Though Swedish meatballs are always a favorite, this week’s trending Ikea furniture items were Ikea closets, plants and sofas.

Work it, Walmart
Walmart’s store aisles are turning into runways with the new employee dress code. They can now wear jeans and–brace yourselves–anysolid color top. As for bottoms, people want to know, “Are leggings included in Walmart’s new dress code?” We never (Arkan)saw this coming, but Arkansas topped the list of regions searching for “Walmart dress code” in the U.S. For people wondering about other dress code etiquette, a trending question was “what to wear to jury duty.”

Kendrick makes history
This week people asked “Why is Kendrick Lamar important?” Listen to this: he made music history by being the first non-classical or jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music Composition (high five, Kendrick!). And people felt the pull to search for “Kendrick Lamar prize”—interest was 900 percent higher than “Kendrick Lamar song.”

Six precepts every investor should remember

1 week 1 day ago
SIR ELTON JOHN has a three-year farewell tour planned. This columnist has only a few weeks to go, before heading off to a new Economist beat. So it seems like a good idea to summarise some of the themes which have dominated this blog. To start, long-term investing. Here are a set of precepts every investor should remember.

The High Five: prom gets cheesy, pollen makes you sneezy

1 week 6 days ago

Whether you’re on the hunt for a flower crown or a corsage, here’s what that ol’ internet has been up to this week …


People are searching for Coachella—specifically, “what is Coachella”? It’s a music festival in the middle of the desert in California where bandanas are worn, parasols are twirled and selfies are taken (other Coachella items trending on Search are dust masks and earplugs… not as cute.) If you’re looking to see “who is performing?” you’ll be pleased to learn that two of the top-searched artists at Coachella are Beyonce and Cardi B (but Cardi was searched 3,200 percent more than Bey this week).


For those who have to wait a few years to bask in the sweet sun of the Coachella Valley, the fluorescent light of a high school gym will have to suffice. That’s because it’s prom season, and the kids are wondering “is prom worth it?” and searching for creative promposals (prom + proposal) like “Fornite promposal” and “The Office promposal.” It’s not prom without a corsage and boutonniere (but who can spell that?). Amidst the prom-mania, “How to spell boutonniere” was a trending question this week.  


If you thought your prom was cheesy, it’s got nothing on the next trend. On Thursday, sandwich enthusiasts celebrated National Grilled Cheese Day, and they took to Google to learn new ways to make the delicious treat—searches for grilled cheese were up 300 percent. Trending types of grilled cheese were “Taco grilled cheese,” “Keto grilled cheese” and “garlic bread grilled cheese.”


Spring comes, snow melts, and people search for pollen. Is that the saying? Whatever. The next trend is pollen. Probably because there’s a lot of it in the air. People were more interested in “pollen allergy” than “food allergy” this week, and a top trending question was “how does pollen cause allergies?” 🤷


Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth welcomed her second child into the world this week, making her the first U.S. Senator to give birth while in office. The announcement of her new baby had some people searching ”How old is Tammy Duckworth?” and brought up questions about maternity leave—“how long is maternity leave?” and “when to take maternity leave?” were trending questions this week.


The smartphone and the toilet

2 weeks 1 day ago
THE impact of technology on the economy is one of the most-debated issues of the moment, whether it is the potential for automation to cause unemployment, boost long-term productivity, or widen inequality. A good deal of the annual Barclays Equity-Gilt Study, published yesterday, was devoted to the subject.

Junior Developer: The Title You Should (Almost) Never Accept

2 weeks 1 day ago

I’ve had sort of a hate-hate relationship throughout my career with the title of junior developer.  Wait, that’s too nuanced.  Remove the “sort of” — I’ve just had a hate-hate relationship with the term. This isn’t a job title you should accept, unless you have your back against the wall.  A prospective employer might say […]

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Erik Dietrich

9 RescueTime Alerts you can use to stay motivated, track progress, and guard yourself from distractions

2 weeks 2 days ago

RescueTime Alerts take the guesswork out of where your time is going and give you real-time feedback on your actual behaviors so you can be aware, stop, and adjust. Here are some of the best ones you can get started with today.

The post 9 RescueTime Alerts you can use to stay motivated, track progress, and guard yourself from distractions appeared first on RescueTime Blog.

Jory MacKay

An update from Jeremy Grantham

2 weeks 2 days ago
JEREMY GRANTHAM is an investor with 50 years of experience in the markets who is known for his caution about the outlook for long-term returns (he works for the GMO fund management group). But he caused a stir earlier this year when he said the chances were high of a melt-up in the markets this year.

A plan that needs more money

2 weeks 3 days ago
AMERICAN private-sector workers face a problem. Too few of them have private-sector pensions, and the government scheme, Social Security, set up by Franklin Roosevelt (pictured) is less generous than it used to be. One study estimated that 20m elderly Americans will be living in poverty or near-poverty by 2035.

A plan that needs more money

2 weeks 3 days ago
AMERICAN private-sector workers face a problem. Too few of them have private-sector pensions, and the government scheme, Social Security, set up by Franklin Roosevelt (pictured) is less generous than it used to be. One study estimated that 20m elderly Americans will be living in poverty or near-poverty by 2035.